Skip to comments.Restoring The Church's Foundation
Posted on 04/27/2002 2:58:33 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
VATICAN CITY - There were two stories in Rome in this week. The first was the American cardinals' decision to adopt "zero tolerance" for priests who have sexually abused minors. The second was their call for a vigorous reaffirmation of Catholic orthodoxy, especially regarding sexual morality, as the long-term solution to sexual misconduct by priests. The first step will be applauded by the broader American culture; the second means the cardinals are gearing up for a fight.
The sexual abuse story brought the full weight of the American media machine to Rome, complete with television crews staking out the cardinals' residences. Those of us who are accustomed to covering the Vatican in peaceful obscurity were suddenly hot properties, sought after by the famous but generally ill-informed stars of American television.
To respond to the most immediate issue, the American cardinals opted for the most severe option open to them. It now seems likely that a zero-tolerance policy, retroactively applied, will become a binding national standard in the United States after all the American bishops meet in June. On the key issue of whether priests remain in ministry -- parishes, universities, hospitals, etc. -- the comments of the cardinals made it clear that a retroactive "one-strike-and-you're-out" policy is the consensus. The adjudication of accusations -- an important step given the rare, but real, phenomenon of fabricated claims -- will likely be made by a lay board of professionals, parents, victims.
The cardinals hope that opting for a severe line on sexual abuse will begin to restore the trust that American bishops have lost. But they also committed themselves to taking a much harder line on what they identified as the "doctrinal issues underlying the deplorable behaviour in question."
"[Bishops] need clearly to promote the correct moral teaching of the Church and publicly to reprimand individuals who spread dissent and groups which advance ambiguous approaches to pastoral care," wrote the cardinals in their final communiqué.
The implication is clear. The cardinals' believe that a culture of dissent breeds moral laxity. Specifically, that refusal by some theology professors and seminary faculties to accept Church teachings on sexuality, especially priestly celibacy and homosexuality, produces the environment in which sexual misconduct becomes more than just a rare occurrence.
What does this mean in practice? The cardinals proposed a special "apostolic visitation" of seminaries, which would put "particular emphasis on the need for fidelity to the Church's teaching, especially in the area of morality." A "visitation" is a review by an external board which evaluates seminary practices and makes recommendations for future accreditation.
If the visitation is a serious attempt to eliminate theological dissent and toleration of sexual sins, the bishops will be accused of stifling freedom and lacking compassion. If the visitation attempts to stamp out networks of homosexuality which exist in pockets here and there, headlines will follow about bigotry and witch hunts.
The American bishops know all this. It may explain why they have been reluctant to act on questions of doctrine, wishing to avoid divisive internal Church battles and the ancillary attacks from secular sources. But now their leadership has said that there are "doctrinal" foundations to sexual scandals. What is taught has an effect on what is done. Bad teaching leads to bad morals.
That may not sound like news. But it was perhaps the most newsworthy thing that happened here this week. Perhaps the Catholic Church in the United Sates is going back to basics, returning to the language that the Church exists to speak. It is not the language of therapy, psychology, legal proceedings and insurance advice.
Pope John Paul II used the right words when in March he said priestly sexual abuse belonged to the "gravest manifestations of the mystery of evil." He continued this week by acknowledging that while sexual abuse is "rightly considered a crime," more important for the Church, it is "an appalling sin in the eyes of God." And he spoke too of the "power of Christian conversion," without which no Christian pastor would have anything to say to a world marred by sin.
Good and evil. Punishment and penance. Forgiveness and conversion. This is the language of the Church. The American Church, deeply scarred, is returning to her own language and her own foundation. If this crisis is to be a time, as the cardinals put it, of "painful purification," it will depend to a large degree on the Church rededicating herself to the purity of her doctrine and the integrity of her morals.
Zero tolerance for sexual abuse is the news for this week. Ending tolerance for doctrinal dissent is the news for the future.
|-||'Notorious' priests would be defrocked|
|-||Abuse will not be tolerated, Pope warns U.S. cardinals|
|-||Bishops off to Rome in bid to resolve pedophilia crisis|
|-||Pope 'afflicted by sins' of pedophile priests in U.S.|
National Post Online is a Hollinger / CanWest Publication.
Therefore, the Church's Foundation never needed to be restored, because HE is risen! The author does bring up some great points however.
I think something more drastic and draconian has got to be done, but I honestly don't know how or by whom. Feelgood religion with no substance has just become the norm.
This couldn't have happened at a worse time. When Islam attacks here - which it will - most Catholics will have so little knowledge of and trust in their own religion that they'll probably just give up without a fight. Nobody's going to want to get martyred for a picture of a butterfly and a rainbow (current church banner).
I Corinthians 1 6:9-10 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
Well seminary professors and students... any questions?
In all this posting and talking about sexual morality not one word of mention concerning the use of artificial means of birth control. The widespread acceptance of this is perhaps the biggest scandal of all. The laity will rant and rave about a few priests and not a word about this most serious mortal sin. Wives take pills (abortifacients), husbands have vasectomies and use condoms, wives have their tubes tied. So long as people are posting concerning the necessity of returning to Catholic orthodoxy and sexual morality lets make sure we cover the whole gamut!!
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